Happy New Year, my beautiful people! I hope you enjoyed it not too responsibly! )
Gwilwillith: Thanks! Hope you're having a great holiday!
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Guest: Thank you! If that's what you want, I think you'll enjoy this chapter...
Thegoldenlock: Ooh, I'm glad! I try not to make Ella take up too much of the spotlight, because she is an OC, but I still want her to be there, you know? Tao is so...ugh, I can't... 3 In Osaka? Do you live in Japan? That's cool! This may be slightly off topic, but I want to honeymoon in the Japanese countryside...it's so beautiful! Taemin is so cute! Have you seen Dazzling Girl?! SM took it off YouTube, but I think there are still some versions out there...we'll have to see!
animechick247: Do you mean the one in the garden? Where they kiss? Arwen looks so beautiful there...you know she's the daughter of Steven Tyler? Liv Tyler is just so gorgeous... Well, thanks for the review! Hope you're having a great holiday!
Astraea Concord: I think your family just wants the best for you :) And that's okay! Surprisingly, we all have a life out of fanfiction...LOL. And as for the emotion, I think that is a good idea! But please remember that Ella is a seventeen year old girl. When you have a crush on someone, it's most likely you will fall for their looks first. Does that sound shallow? I hope not? I haven't seen the Hobbit yet! I just have had so much work! SO NO SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT! And I actually have a system. While the first chapter was published in April, I actually started writing in the July of the previous year. I keep writing, and I will post chapters once a week (or I try hard to!). So no one has to wait a month for one chapter. I just keep going so I don't run out. Does that make sense? Enjoy!
Wisdom's Stare: Merry Christmas to you too! :) I hope you like this chapter!
timetable: Thanks! I do my best, but I will never be as good as Tolkien or Jackson! Enjoy!
crisis what crisis: It just worked out that way, LOL! I updated once a week, and the time to update happened to fall on Christmas Eve. LOL! Enjoy!
YugiohObsessed: You'll have to read to find out... *DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN*
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trinitybreaker: Your name reminds me of the Matrix. Love that movie. Anyways, haha, I'm glad you liked it!
: :O Really?! I'm so glad you like it! And I'm glad the pacing is good! It took me a long time to get it just right! Enjoy the chapter!
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Dark-nasky: Legolas drunk?! It seems so OOC! I don't think I could do that! LOL, but it would be funny! Hope you're having a great holiday!
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MysticRoseDrop: Christmas was good! Hope yours was great, too! ._. That is a little confusing? Was it hard to make friends? I liked the poem! I replied to your message, so check it out! And they are?! I didn't know that! You learn something new everyday... :P I've never eaten a fly. Haah. it's okay if you can't! I understand, people get busy! And have confidence in yourself! You can do anything if you put your mind to it! :) Enjoy the chapter!
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icequeen: Here's the newest chapter! And to find out...you'll have to read! Enjoy!
I didn't know what happened. Was I asleep? Had I fainted? Was I…dead? I wasn't really sure, but I knew that I wasn't awake. I was sitting, but I didn't know where. I was breathing—but was I alive? I had no clue. I was scared. It was cold. Dark.
I shivered, rubbing my hands on my arms to try and warm myself up. "H—Hello?" I turned around on the spot, but everywhere was pitch black. I couldn't see anything, not even my own hand as I held it up inches from my face.
I needed to hear something, anything. I didn't care who it was or even what it was. I just needed to know that I wasn't the only person in this universe of sorts. I sat down, and from the feel of it, I was sitting on stone. It was smooth, and cold. I crawled on all fours, feeling around like a blind woman.
I stretched out my fingertips, and my hand brushed something soft and warm. I jerked my hand back, gasping a little. As I reacted, my surroundings lightened, like the sun just before it set. I squinted a little, trying to see what I had touched.
A girl. A little girl.
Her eyes were closed, but she was breathing. Her chest rose and fell in short bursts, and her brow had a sheen of sweat on it. Her brows were pinched together, and her damp, dark hair was sticking to her pale skin.
"A—are you..." I whispered, surprised that I could hear my own voice. I touched her forehead again, and she moaned a little, her eyes fluttering. When she opened them fully, they were a clear grey.
"M—Me," I finished, taken aback. "Y—You're me."
"I knew you'd come," she—me—I—Ella—whispered. "I knew you'd come. I've been waiting for you. I've missed you, Ella. I've missed you so..." She coughed a little, and I heard her breath hitch.
"I...d—don't u—understand..." I said. "What d—do I call y—you?"
She lifted a shoulder, still staring straight up. "Whatever you want. I am you, you know. Whatever you like, I'll like."
I thought, and finally said, "E—Ella. I w—will call you E—Ella."
"As you wish." Ella looked at me, and I saw the start of my present face—the upturned nose and the thin lips growing fuller. She was me, me at six years old—the year before my father died. Before the shyness and stutter. When everything seemed simpler...
"It was happier...wasn't it?"
I didn't question how she knew what I was thinking—she was me, after all. "I—It was."
"I know. I'm sorry...I let myself slip away from you. I was afraid. You were afraid. I know what I did was wrong...ugh, I can't say this, without making you sound like the enemy." She coughed, a reminder of her weakness.
"W—why are y—you like this..." I whispered. "I thought..."
"I'm you...of course, you don't know. Ella, I'm you now. Like I am slipping away, you are slipping away in the world. You're barely holding on, Ella! You're dying, fading away! Like a star—you're there, people see you, but it's hard for them. Ella, make yourself known. You are too beautiful to be a ghost; too strong to fade into the background."
I bowed my head, her words stinging me sharply. What she was saying was true. I was surviving, yes, but was I alive? No. I had never done what I wanted to do, what made me happy. I had been whipped into shape by my mother and followed Aragorn blindly into a journey that had brought me here.
"I—I'm so sorry..." I said, tears starting to run down my cheeks. I touched her face, and tears touched my fingertips. "I—I'm sorry..."
"I know," she said, giving me a knowing smile. "I know. But you must promise me something, Ella. Promise me that what you do from now on...is for your purposes. And whether your purpose is to help others or help yourself...just do it with all your heart."
I nodded. "I—I promise."
My eyes flew open, the morning light blinding me. I drew in a deep breath, my eyes widening. "Oh!" I turned my head to the side, panting a little. "G—Gandalf!"
He gave me a smile. "Hello, my child." He placed a hand on my forehead, and it was pleasantly cool. "You are awake at last. We have been worried about you." His blue eyes twinkled, but there was a shadow of worry in them.
"I—I'm sorry," I said, placing a hand on my stomach. It hurt to move, although the cot I was in was rather comfortable. "G—Gandalf...where must we go next? W—What m—must we d—do next?"
"My child. I must go to Gondor. Pippin saw in the Palantir a glimpse of Sauron's plan. He moves against Minas Tirith, and will burn the city to the ground, so the next King of Gondor may not reign." He stood. "I must leave now, and I will take Pippin with me." He gave a small bow, and left the room.
I stared up at the ceiling, the morning light warming my skin a little. If Gandalf was gone, then we had less of an insight into the plans of Sauron. But if there was one thing I'd learned on this journey, was that everything had a purpose.
Slowly sitting up, I balanced myself on my elbows and sighed. Time to get up and get dressed. When my bare feet touched the cool wooden floor, I rubbed my face into my hands, feeling extremely tired all of a sudden.
I stood, and turned around on the spot, looking for my clothes. I found them on a chest, neatly folded and—to my pleasure—clean. I looked around again, and found a basin of water. I crossed over to it, splashing water on my face. It was ice cold, and I trilled my surprise.
I stripped quickly and pulled on my shirt and pants, and pulled on a pair of socks, not too thick and not too thin. I tugged my boots over my feet, and wiggled my toes. The dark brown leather was scuffed from travel and wear.
I lifted a shoulder. "Hmm." I made the bed, moving a little slowly, as I was still sore, and walked out of the room, stiffly but surely. When I opened the doors to the hall of Meduseld, a familiar face looked in my direction.
"Lass!" Gimli roared, walking over and patting me on the back. "We've been worried about you! Especially—"
"Gimli," a voice interrupted him, and I saw the blonde Elf hurrying over to us. He gave me a tiny bow, and a small smile. "Hello, Ella. I hope you are feeling better? That was quite a scare you gave us..."
"I—I'm f—fine, y—you two," I reassured them, waving my hand a little. I was a little flattered by the attention they were giving me—something very unusual. I was usually the one standing off to the side.
"Good. I am glad to hear it." We were left standing together as Gimli clomped off to yell at Aragorn about something. "Ella. I need to ask you something, and I want you to answer honestly. Please."
My eyes tightened a little, but I gave him a smile. "Erm...a—all right." I let him lead me outside to where the people of Rohan went about their daily business and chores. To be honest, I missed it a little. Having something to do everyday—a set schedule, knowing exactly what was expected of me. An attainable goal.
We walked down the stairs and into the stables, where it was eerily empty and quiet. Either he planned this, or it was a happy coincidence. The horses were pacing back and forth, watching us with intelligent eyes.
Legolas closed the door and leaned against it. "Ella. I heard you. Last night. When you were...when you were asleep." He folded his arms across his chest, and I couldn't help noticing his muscles flex.
"I—I was t—talking?" I said, caught off guard. I didn't remember ever having talked in my sleep. I knew I mumbled a little, but I didn't say full out words. "W—What d—did I—I say?"
He looked down at the ground, and I grabbed his shoulder, throwing caution to the winds. "Legolas! W—What d—did I say?! Please tell me!"
"You...you said...'Please...please don't leave me!' And then, then you started screaming, and w—we had to come in and hold you down, and then you stopped. You just stopped breathing." His voice was shaking, and I was scared. This was the first time that he had ever showed any sign of weakness.
"I—I didn't know...h—how..." I shook my head, trying to remember. But I could only recall me talking to, well, me. "B—But what d—did you want to a—ask?"
"I need to know what you were dreaming, or what you saw. Remember, you touched the Palantir..." He almost spat the name, a reminder of how evil the object actually was. "So...before he left, Gandalf asked me to keep an eye on you. He is worried about you, Ella. We all are..." His eyes darkened to blue, and I was transfixed for a moment, unable to move.
"I—I...I can't r—remember. J—Just one, though," I mumbled, so low that he had to lean forward to hear, even with his heightened senses. "Just one." I proceeded to tell him about the dream in which I met myself. I left out the part about her telling me to live my life the way I wanted to; that was something I was not ready to disclose yet.
He frowned. "Interesting. Hmm. All right, Ella. I know you are not not lying, or at least, I trust you're not." Legolas gave me a playful nudge, and I smiled. "But if you have any more dreams like those...please, tell me. I want to help you."
He looked like he meant it. He was eager and honest, and when he leaned forward, the anticipation in his face was almost too much to bear. He cared for me, and I knew it then. It took all my willpower not to knock him down and kiss him senseless.
"I—I will. Thank you...Legolas," I murmured, pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind.
"There is something else. I have noticed you are not stammering as much. I am proud of you, Ella. You have come so far."
"I—It was y—your doing, Legolas," I said, clasping my hands behind my back and giving a tiny bow. "Y—You helped me. I—I give you my thanks."
Legolas tilted his head to the side, then placed a hand on my shoulder. It seemed to weigh there heavily, and my heart sped up, thumping wildly. My cheeks grew hot, and I hoped my skin wasn't turning red, so I ducked my head down to be safe.
"Ella. Look at me. What are you hiding?"
"N—Nothing. Nothing a—at a—all." Damn my stammering, damn, damn, damn! I didn't want him to see my obvious embarrassment. I was worse than a girl who saw a handsome man on the street. Except, I didn't giggle and squeal.
"Your ears are bright red," I heard him comment, and I squeaked and clapped my hands over my ears. He laughed, and raised my chin up so I was looking at him. "Ella. It is all right." And he kissed me.
It was soft, sweet, but long. Not the kiss your grandmother would give you on your forehead, or a chaste one that you bestowed upon your parents before going to bed. This was the kiss of...of a lover.
I had no experience in kissing whatsoever. I'd been kissed before, and by the one who was kissing me now. But it felt right. What I was doing, I mean. His mouth fit perfectly over mine, his lips melting into my own, forming a connection deeper than anyone could create.
When he pulled away, my legs seemed to ache a little, telling me to step forward and draw him to me again. My lips felt swollen and full, and they tingled. He looked down, and sighed. "I—I am sorry."
"Why?" I whispered, my eyebrows drawing together. I reached out a hand, and feeling rather bold, I pressed a quick kiss to his lips once more. "Don't be. D—Don't ever be."
He closed his eyes; nodded. The Elf pulled me into a tight embrace, and we stayed there for a long time.
Dinner was slightly awkward. Éomer was chatting quietly with Gimli and Aragorn, and Éowyn was stealing glances at the Ranger. I'd noticed she was drawn to him, but I also knew that his heart would always belong to Arwen. Sooner or later, he was going to have to tell her, but would he be able to do it?
Legolas sat to my left, the both of us focused on our food. It felt good not to be eating lembas every single day, but I couldn't manage to swallow. My left hand was squeezed into a tight fist, and my other was firmly around my goblet of water. When we left the stables that afternoon, I'd felt slightly guilty about kissing him.
I didn't know why, but there was something telling me that I shouldn't get too attached to him. I knew it was already too late, that we naturally gravitated towards each other, but I couldn't help it. My heart was telling me to go one way, while my head another.
I gave a short, but inaudible sigh, and spooned some stew into my mouth. It was good, but it felt like my throat was pushing it back up. I cast my eyes furtively to my left, watching the Elf.
He was tense. He didn't look as tense as I felt, but I could tell. His shoulders were slightly hunched, and he had a blank expression on his face; uncommon for his race. His hands were also curled into balls, tighter than mine.
When I looked back down at my food, I decided I wasn't hungry anymore. I stood, excused myself quietly, and went to the library. Again, the musty smell of books filled my nose, and I breathed deeply.
I wandered deep into the rows and rows of books, so old that dust clung to them, forgotten over time. It grew darker outside, so I lit a candle, being cautious not to go too close to the books and set the entire realm of Rohan on fire. I let my hands trail along the spines, and finally selected a leather bound book.
I sat down at a table and began to read. I was so engrossed in the story (it was a tale about a young girl locked in a castle) that I didn't notice the time passing. I was soon shaken awake by a pair of gentle hands.
"Hmm." I didn't want to get up, mainly because I was still a little tired, but my back hurt from falling asleep on the table. "I...don't want to..."
The person chuckled, and I could tell it was Legolas. Even though my first instinct was to spring up and smooth my hair, I was quite drowsy, and remained where I was. "Ella, come. It is past midnight. You need your...ah, what do women call it...er, beauty sleep."
"I think...I'll stay...here," I murmured, shifting a little.
He sighed. "You do not have a choice." I soon felt his arms around me, hoisting me up into the air. He was carrying me, but I was too tired to protest, or even blush. As he strode down the hall, I heard nothing but his light footsteps, on the smooth marble floors.
I was soon laid down in a cot, where I had slept the night before.
"Good night, Ella."
I paced nervously across the hall, looking outside the window every once in a while. I wasn't waiting for anything in particular, but there was a strange sense of anticipation knotting in my chest.
I turned. What could I be waiting for? There was no battle, I wasn't looking for anyone or anything. When I spun on my heel again, I caught Gimli's eye, and he grunted and stuck his pipe into his mouth.
Well, he seemed to be at ease.
I was rather fidgety, and I went outside for some fresh air. I went down the stairs, kicking out my feet every so often, trying to get the jitters out. I spotted Aragorn by the stables and walked over to him. He, too, was smoking, and I rolled my eyes. Men.
When he saw me, he raised his hand in greeting and went back to smoking his pipe. "Ella. How are you feeling? You scared us."
"I—I'm fine...thank you." I folded my arms against my chest, shivering a little. In the distance I could see mountains, and I grew even colder, remembering the events of the pass of Caradhras.
I settled down beside him, breathing in the smell of Old Toby pipe weed. It was earthy, but tangy at the same time. It was a nostalgic smell, and I watched as he blew smoke rings into the chilly air.
Suddenly, he sat up, his smoking of pipe weed forgotten. "Ella. Do you...do you see that?"
"What?" I squawked, squinting in the same direction he was. When he stood up, I knew it was important. "Aragorn, what?! What?!"
He gasped, and then turned on his heel, running for the hall.
"A—Aragorn!" I yelled, following him as closely as I could. What could it possibly be? I soon got my answer, when he crashed into the hall, yelled, "The beacons of Minas Tirith! The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!"
Everyone looked at him, and Gimli even lowered his pipe in surprise. Théoden, who was bent over a pile of maps with his nephew, straightened up and looked at Aragorn, his face blank.
I exchanged a look with Éowyn, whose lips were pressed so tightly together they were white on the edges. Would the king aid Gondor? She shook her head ever so slightly, and lowered her head.
Théoden raised his chin. "And Rohan shall answer! Muster the Rohirrim!" He directed this to Éomer, who nodded, but not before placing a hand on his sister's shoulder. She seemed to be happy, but her eyes were averted.
I hurried outside, as the bells were being rung, signalling the soldiers to prepare for battle. "L—Legolas! What i—is going on?"
"Gondor is under attack! Mordor has struck, and they have lit these beacons, to signal their call." He turned to me, and I saw him strapping his bow onto his back, tightening it with a determined look on his face. "As allies of both Gondor and Rohan, we also must answer the call."
"R—Right. Then I—I will p—prepare." I turned quickly, hurrying off to my room where I knew my weapons were. I fastened my sword around my waist, and pulled my top off, replacing it with chainmail. Then I redressed.
I turned around, looking for a mirror, and there was a handheld one on top of a bookshelf. I grabbed it, and pulled my hair up into a low ponytail. A few curls tumbled down over my face, and I started for a moment.
I looked like my mother. Before her grief and despair. Before she withdrew into herself. Before Father died. The lines of age weren't there, nor were the pinched lips and angry eyes.
"Milady! We must leave!"
I placed the mirror back down where I found it, and turned away. "I'm coming."
Celfled paced back and forth, making me bounce up and down vigorously. "Easy, girl. Easy." I ran a hand through her mane, and when I found a tangle, I worked it out gently, as if I were combing a child's hair.
When I looked up, the Rohirrim were fully armed, mounting their horses and kissing their loved ones goodbye. I rotated my shoulders, trying to work through my anxiety. Countless battles and sparring rounds, and I still wasn't used to fighting.
I heard someone come up behind me on their horse, and I saw Legolas on Arod, with Gimli hanging on. As we surveyed the warriors, Gimli snorted, "Humph! Horsemen! I wish I could muster an army of dwarves, fully armed and filthy."
Although I was proud of him for having such faith in his kin and we did need all the help we could get, one Dwarf was enough for me to handle.
"Your kinsmen may have no need to ride to war. I fear war already marches on their own lands," Legolas murmured, his eyes worried. When Gimli's face turned from smug to worried, he reached a hand behind him and patted the Dwarf's shoulder.
I also stretched out a hand, resting it on Gimli's arm. "D—Don't worry, Gimli. Th—They're fine. I—I'm sure of it."
He sighed heavily, but he had a smile on his lips. "Thank you, lassie. I'm sure they'll be all right." But he turned away, and I turned to Legolas, with sadness written across my face.
If the dwarves couldn't protect themselves...then what could a hundred villagers of Bree do against the forces of Mordor? "Oh," I whispered, my legs squeezing the side of Celfled.
She turned an indignant eye towards me, and I quickly apologized to her. When I shifted in the saddle, she tossed her head, and her dark hairs caught the glowing afternoon sun.
I looked down, and saw Merry, sitting beside me on a pure white pony. He looked a little nervous but determined at the same time. "M—Merry." When he looked up at me, fear was evident in his eyes.
"Ella. I—I'm going with you. I'm going with you all. My friends have gone to battle. Why shouldn't I?" he said, gripping his sword. I noticed that his feet, covered in hair, were trembling.
"Y—You have every r—right to go, Merry," I murmured, reaching down to lay a hand on his sandy curls. "I—I know F—Frodo would appreciate it..."
He smiled. "Thank you, Ella." Merry ducked out from under my hand, and slid the green and gold helmet of Rohan onto his head. "It's only a matter of time now."
The Hobbit was right; indeed, Éomer was yelling to the soldiers. "Now is the hour, Riders of Rohan! Oaths you have taken! Now, fulfill them all, to lord and land! Yah!"